Is diabetes a disability?
If you have type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes or another type of diabetes and need to take insulin or other medication for your diabetes, it's generally seen as a disability under the Equality Act 2010, or if you live in Northern Ireland — the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
This law protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society and gives you certain legal rights for any extra support or care you need to do as well as anyone else. See the links below to find how this applies to diabetes.
- Claiming benefits and diabetes
- Free prescriptions
- Getting blood glucose test strips
- Getting diabetes tech
- Your rights at work
- Driving and diabetes
- Care in school
- Exams and diabetes
- Having diabetes in prison
We can't say that diabetes is always seen as a disability because the Equality Act treats each person as an individual. And ultimately only a court or tribunal could decide. But the key thing is that diabetes is a long-term condition that can seriously affect your ability to do normal day-to-day things if you aren’t able to have your medication or treatment.
We’re here to help you get the support you need to live well with diabetes. So if you can’t find the information you need or are not sure about something and want some advice, call our helpline on 0345 123 2399. Or fill in our online form and we’ll get back to you within five working days.
It’s not a legal right, but it’s worth mentioning that everyone with diabetes is entitled to regular NHS health checks and care which are set out in guidelines for healthcare professionals.
Some people with diabetes may be able to claim benefit for themselves or someone they’re supporting. This includes Disability Living Allowance for children and Personal Independence Payment for adults. Find out more on our diabetes and benefits page.
If you take medication for your diabetes, you do not have to pay for it. You have a legal right to free prescriptions for diabetes medication. But if you’re in England and under 60, you’ll need to get and fill in a medical exemption certificate to claim.
If your test strips are being restricted to a certain number on prescription, we have information on what you can do. Download our Get the test strips you need (PDF, 405KB).
If you use insulin to manage your diabetes, find out if you qualify on the NHS for a CGM, Flash glucose monitor or – if you have type 1 diabetes – an insulin pump. And what to do if you qualify and can’t get the tech you need. (Diabetes tech isn't technically a legal right, but healthcare professionals have guidelines on who they should offer diabetes tech to). Go to our Who qualifies for diabetes tech page.
It’s important to show you’re the best person for the job regardless of your diabetes. We've got all of the information you need to understand your rights in the workplace, for example, writing to your employer about your rights at work.
For more detailed information about your employment rights, download Work and diabetes: a guide for people living with diabetes (PDF, 1MB). If you want to share information at work, we also have: Supporting someone with diabetes at work: A guide for employers and colleagues (PDF, 222KB).
If you drive, having diabetes doesn’t automatically mean you can’t anymore. There are many myths about driving and diabetes but we've got everything you need to know from hypos to diabetes complications while driving. We can provide information and guidance to help you get your licence back.
I knew that withdrawing my licence was unjust, but taking on a large organisation, it feels like it’s just you against the big guys. Having Diabetes UK’s help, and knowing they were on my side, made all the difference.
Worried about your child's care in school? We've got information and support to help make sure all children with diabetes get the support and care they deserve at school so that they have the same opportunities as other children.
We also have a collection of useful resources that you can download to help support you in getting the best diabetes care in schools.
If you have diabetes, you are entitled to have the things you need during the exam to help you do as well as anyone else. Go to our information on schools and exams or if you've left school our university exams page.
Although diabetes healthcare isn’t technically a legal right, you are entitled to the same health checks and care for your diabetes in prison as you would be if you weren’t in prison. These are set out in guidelines for healthcare professionals. And you should be getting your insulin and medication on time and any additional support you need.
Go to our shop to download or order our Having diabetes in prison guide